First, I must get this out of the way: holy crap, he's hot.
Okay, now on to the movie...
It was amazing. The only draw-back for me was the fact that Jae Hee doesn't speak. At all. For the entire 2:35 minutes, I don't get to hear his voice... I won't lie... that hurt. But I could look at him, so that more than made up for it. And surprisingly enough, I was so captivated by his actions--by the subtleties of his acting--that I didn't realize he wasn't speaking until the movie was already well under way.
Of course, since this is by the same writer/director of Time, I should have seen this coming! ^_^
The concept itself is very intriguing: it never even dawned on me that language can be so unnecessary. It's something we all use... and yet, here are two people who don't need language to communicate. They both have the capacity for speech, and yet it's a personal choice not to use it. Still, it doesn't feel like we're missing anything. The woman speaks one word towards the end--it's short, sweet, and the only words they need. I loved watching them bond and fall in love. In a way it was very innocent; very touching.
I found the scene where they first meet extremely interesting. Trespassing is a huge violation, no matter how you look at it… of personal space, safety, comfort, and of piece of mind. Nobody likes the idea of having their privacy and property rummaged by a stranger—of finding their lives laid bare without their consent; it’s humiliating and overly humbling. The battered woman has already been humbled and humiliated by her husband; she has nothing left to lose. This is probably a huge part of the reason why she’s able to watch his invasion with a sense of detached fascination and awe—she doesn’t call the police or immediately confront him, but instead, shadows him silently—turning the tables by observing him without his knowledge. It’s very fitting then, that when she finally does choose to confront him, it’s when he’s in the middle of a very private, humiliating, and humbling act himself: masturbation. How very apt... ;)Now, for golf. I've never seen such a boring sport used in such a creative, through-provoking way. One of my favorite scenes was when Tae-Suk watched the husband attacking his wife, and very calmly started hitting golf-balls into the huge target-screen--then, when confronted, started aiming the golf-balls at her husband instead. The golf motif was something that was constant throughout the movie, and I liked how it could convey so many things. It was also a nice touch how later, every time Tae-Suk would try to practice golf with his little tethered ball, the woman would silently block his way; shadowing him, so he couldn't play.
I'm also convinced that this writer could take any item and make it look much deeper and cooler than it actually is. Next, he should base an entire movie around an umbrella! I think he could pull it off...
As cool as the rest of the movie was, the ending, I'll admit, confused me. But really, that's nothing new... I guess I'm just not smart enough to decipher all these deeper, hidden meanings the writers and directors want me to take away from their films. Up until the end, even with the emphasis on silence, I thought everything I'd been seeing was pretty believable... and yet, once he's released from jail, everything I thought I knew about Jae Hee's character went out the window!
It's hard to tell that the world we live in is either a reality or a dream.As beautiful and cool as everything leading up to that moral was (the focus on the scale reading "0" was a nice touch) it came out of nowhere. I loved watching him shadowing the husband; being ghost-like in all the houses they stayed at; hiding on the guard in his cell. But none of it made sense.
The moment he was released, I wasn't sure what I was expected to believe. The first half of the movie (strange as it was) could easily be based on reality. I could honestly see people doing this, even if the odds of them escaping the police (or the tenants notice) seemed unlikely. The fact that they actually were caught several times, only reinforced that sense of realism. Yet, during the second half of the film, this concept of reality we've become familiar with, is stretched to its limit.
It peaks the moment he's released from prison.
The ghost-like shadowing; the sinking into the wall; the impossible scale. All of this I could've bought... if it weren't for the woman's husband. It's through him that we're informed Jae Hee's character was released from jail--not that he's dead or missing. If this had been hinted/alluded to instead, then I would have had an easier time buying everything that followed. By having an outside character (who's one of the most reality-grounded people in this whole movie) tell us outright that this person is out there somewhere, planning to return. Why wouldn't we believe it...? Especially since the woman can see him, and we can too. Why then, are we suddenly shown a series of blurred, impossible scenarios, that seem impossible?
Whether it is reality or a dream, I don't really care... what I want to know is why the sudden change? Is it just to give the movie a deeper meaning? A cool way to throw in a twist? At the end, what are we supposed to believe? Is he a ghost? A really good hider? Did he suddenly develop the ability to move through time, space, other dimensions...? I know what the writer/director is going for at the end: we're told what he wants us to take away from this film. I just have trouble buying it.
I guess it's the down-to-earth, non-professional critic in me that bulks at something that isn't explicitly spelled out, or hinted at from the get-go. How anyone can expect mainstream movie-goers to understand something so complex--something that only people with film degrees are likely to understand--is beyond me. So consider this the layman's review, and click the title link above, to find out what's really going on. ;)
Oddly enough, I still enjoyed this movie.
And no, not just because of Jae Hee, lol.
Even though the ending had me scratching my head, overall, the film works. It was definitely thought-provoking, and the idea was unique and interesting. I didn't even realize I enjoyed this movie as much as I did until I sat down to write the review! I can appreciate a movie that makes me think, wonder, and isn't afraid to push the boundaries of its limitations. Even if I don't always understand it. ^_^
Oddly enough, I didn't realize this was another Kim Ki-Duk film when I started watching it-- hence the confusion and head-scratching that followed immediately afterwards. If I'd known ahead of time, I would've been much more open-minded to the ending. But since I had no idea at the time (this only being the second movie of his I've seen--at present, I've seen 4 or 5) I had no idea what to make of it. Now, however, considering the source, it makes perfect sense: Almost all of Kim's films mix the real with the unreal--with impossible scenarios that appear almost dream-like in their execution. Knowing these things ahead of time has a huge impact on how you interpret or react to a film. By watching this unaware, I really missed out on something.
Just be aware of this fact before watching it yourself, and try to keep an open mind: it really is the kind of movie that wants you to think outside the box. So as long as you throw the box away, you should be fine. ^_^